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30/07/2021

Tipperary Independent TD issues warning over threat to local post offices

Tipperary Independent TD issues warning over threat to local post offices

Tipperary Independent TD issues warning over threat to local post offices

The government must wake up and intervene to remove the imminent threat of further widespread Post Office closures, according Independent Tipperary TD Mattie McGrath, leader of the Rural Independent Group of TDs

Speaking outside Leinster House today Deputy Mattie McGrath stated: “The serious warnings by the Irish Postmasters Union (IPU) about the inevitable collapse of the network and up to 200 branch closures are being ignored by the government, despite the government controlling the entire issued share capital of An Post.”

Deputy McGrath said that he and his colleagues were calling on the Government to wake-up and treat this issue with the seriousness it deserves. Tangible State intervention was now needed to combat the potential raft of further post office closures.

“From July 1, the 875 postmaster-operated offices face a major challenge, due to a reduction of around 20 per cent in Government or State payments," he warned. “Instead of the Government trying to channel new State services through the post office network as promised in 2018, as sought by the Postmaster’s Union, they are cutting existing services. Therefore, the demise of the network lies firmly at the door of the Government.”

He said that in 2016, the Rural Independent Group tabled a Dáil motion calling on the Government to commit to a strategic five-year holding plan for the post office network, while also working on a new modernisation roadmap to support the rollout of new services, and ensure financial viability.

“At the time, we warned that Government inaction would result in a complete demise of the network. Now five years on, the network is facing even more significant challenges, due to a complete failure of this and the last administration to do anything meaningful to combat the demise,” he said.

Deputy McGrath said that "such gross incompetence" by the Government was letting everyone down. The main casualty will be rural and regionally-based postmasters, but rural communities across the country will again be hit hard by this negligence.

He called for direct government intervention immediately. The time for pondering and self-absorption was long and truly over. Direct financial intervention was needed, together with a longer-term economic strategy to ensure survival.

“Should the Government choose not to intervene, then they will be allowing post offices to close, knowing full well how vital they are for those living in rural communities," he said.

The group of TDs is also calling for the immediate implementation of the Grant Thornton Report, which recommends urgent Government investment for the post office network, with an annual Public Service Obligation of €17m.”

“Keeping rural post offices open is essential to our well-being as a nation. They continue to function as vital meeting, resource and information centres, even with the rise of the internet and the advent of instant global communications," said Deputy McGrath.

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